ne·​crop·​o·​lis | \ nə-ˈkrä-pə-ləs How to pronounce necropolis (audio) , ne- \
plural necropolises or necropoles\ nə-​ˈkrä-​pə-​ˌlēz How to pronounce necropoles (audio) , ne-​ \ or necropoleis\ nə-​ˈkrä-​pə-​ˌlās How to pronounce necropoleis (audio) , ne-​ \ or necropoli\ nə-​ˈkrä-​pə-​ˌlī How to pronounce necropoli (audio) , -​ˌlē , ne-​ \

Definition of necropolis

: cemetery especially : a large elaborate cemetery of an ancient city

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Did You Know?

With its -polis ending, meaning "city", a necropolis is a "city of the dead". Most of the famous necropolises of Egypt line the Nile River across from their cities. In ancient Greece and Rome, a necropolis would often line the road leading out of a city; in the 1940s a great Roman necropolis was discovered under the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica. Some more recent cemeteries especially deserve the name necropolis because they resemble cities of aboveground tombs, a necessity in low-lying areas such as New Orleans where a high water table prevents underground burial.

Examples of necropolis in a Sentence

Archaeologists uncovered a necropolis of ancient Rome. an ancient necropolis that has given archaeologists valuable insights into how people once lived and died
Recent Examples on the Web Last year, Egypt's Antiquities Ministry announced the discovery of an ancient necropolis near the Nile Valley city of Minya, south of Cairo. Fox News, "A lion mummy may have been discovered at famed pyramid site," 16 Nov. 2019 Fighter jets flew over the necropolis, trailing blue, white and red smoke to represent the French flag. Washington Post, "France honors African veterans of World War II landings," 15 Aug. 2019 Saqqara is an ancient burial ground that served as the necropolis for Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt for more than two millennia. Fox News, "Cache of mummified cats, lions recently discovered on display at Egyptian pyramid site," 24 Nov. 2019 The woman’s remains, which date to the 8th to 6th-century B.C., were found at the ancient necropolis of Bover I in Armenia’s Lori Province. Fox News, "Tomb of battle-scarred ancient female warrior reveals its secrets," 30 Nov. 2019 Now, a team of archaeologists led by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities has revealed five more lion mummies, likely cubs, discovered at the Bubasteion necropolis—literally, a catacomb of cat mummies—in Saqqara. Antoaneta Roussi, National Geographic, "Very rare lion mummies discovered in Egypt," 23 Nov. 2019 The necropolis includes tombs dating back to the Middle, New Kingdom and the Late Periods (1994-332 B.C.). Fox News, "A lion mummy may have been discovered at famed pyramid site," 16 Nov. 2019 In Antakya, a necropolis unearthed during previous construction eventually became a museum. The Economist, "Some building works threaten Turkish antiquities. Others save them," 14 Nov. 2019 Previously, Glavaš had identified tombs in a necropolis near the fort and wanted to find more. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Canine Archaeologists Sniff Out 3,000-Year-Old Graves in Croatia," 26 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'necropolis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of necropolis

1819, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for necropolis

borrowed from Late Latin, "cemetery," borrowed from Greek Nekrópolis, literally, "city of the dead," name of a large cemetery in a suburb of ancient Alexandria, from nekro- necro- + -polis -polis

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Time Traveler for necropolis

Time Traveler

The first known use of necropolis was in 1819

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Statistics for necropolis

Last Updated

5 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Necropolis.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for necropolis


How to pronounce necropolis (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of necropolis

formal : a large cemetery especially of an ancient city

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More from Merriam-Webster on necropolis

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for necropolis

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with necropolis Encyclopedia article about necropolis

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out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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